Cruise Port Atlas | Messina (Sicily), Italy Day Trips | Attractions

Messina (Sicily), Italy Day Trips | Attractions

With limited time in port, planning is the best way to make the most of your time. Should you strike out on your own? Should you hire a local guide? Or should you book a shore excursion offered by the cruise line or an international tour company? Below we have listed the attractions and activities that many other cruisers have enjoyed. This information should help you plan.

The advantage to cruise line tours is that they are timed for your visit and give you flexibility to change your mind after your trip begins. The advantage of using a large international firm is that tours are often less expensive than cruise sponsored tours. The advantage to using a local tour company or guide is that prices can be significantly lower or you may be able to get a customized trip just to see the attractions that interest you most.

Cruise lines that visit Messina: Windstar, Regent Seven Seas, Seabourn, Silversea, Celebrity, Cunard, Holland America, Princess, Costa, MSC Cruises, Royal Caribbean

Recommended Attractions: Duomo, Messina Regional Museum, Annunziata dei Catalani, Taormina, Greek Theater, Ganzirri Beach, Tindari Beach, Naxos beaches, Mt. Etna, Catania, Acireale, Cefalu, Peloritani Mountains, Aeolian Islands, Milazzo, Tindari, Castiglione, Castroreale

Messina Sights

Port to Duomo - 1 KM by taxi, 6 minutes or a 6 minute walk
Port to Regional Museum - 3 KM, 6 minutes

A devastating earthquake almost completely destroyed the city in 1908 and many of the city’s historic buildings were rebuilt then and again after World War II when Sicily was a major battleground. Nonetheless, the beautiful Duomo (cathedral) contains many of the original and historic elements. Two other churches in Messina are worth mentioning: the Norman Church of Annunziata dei Catalani, with clear elements of Arab influence, and the Gothic Santa Maria degli Alemanni from the 13th century. There are several Renaissance fountains in the city. The Regional Museum offers works by Caravaggio and Antonello of Messina, who greatly influenced other Italian renaissance painters. The view across the straits is another attraction.


    Somewhat Wheelchair Accessible

Photo of Messina Cathedral by Pinodario


Port to Taormina - 53 KM, 50 minutes

Taormina is 650 feet above the Ionian Sea with commanding views the bay of Giardini Naxo and Mount Etna. The most popular attraction in the town is the Greek Theater which is likely of Roman origin, but was designed using the Greek rather and Roman forms for the theater. Its location makes it a popular place for performances to this day. The town has been popular for tourists for a long time because of the stunning views from all around town. Shopping, eating and quaffing are the most popular activities though there are other historic buildings to see, including the Romanesque Duomo. Walking around Taormina can be difficult and there are numerous stairways to access different levels of the town.


    Somewhat Wheelchair Accessible

Photo of Taormina's Greek Theater by Giovanni DallOrto


Port to Ganzirri - 11 KM, 20 minutes
Port to Tindari - 60 KM, 50 minutes
Port to Naxos - 55 KM, 55 minutes

Nearby urban beaches include Ganzirri, Torre Faro (named for the lighthouse), and Mortelle. However, there are two areas that offer long stretches of popular beach - the Naxos are near Taormina and Costa Saracena, beginning at Tindari to the northwest. At the end of the peninsula that extends into the Ionian Sea from the Taormina promontory is Isola Bella Park, named for the small island just off the coast. On the mainland is a popular beach (pebbles). Between the port at Giardini Naxos and Taormina is the largest beach in the area with excellent swimming because it is inside the bay. Many areas are open to the public, though some are developed lidos with fees. South of Giardini Naxos is another large beach at Recanati. Just to the north of Taormina are beaches at Mazzeo (large and fairly quiet), Letojanni (very developed), and Spisone (small with limited facilities).


Very few steps    Varies

Photo of Giardini Naxos Beach by Jeanne Boleyn

Mount Etna

Port to Mt. Etna - 105 KM, 1 hour 40 minutes

Mount Etna is one of the great natural wonders of the world and is continuously active. Most eruptions occur near the summit, but there are also flank eruptions. Though this sounds ominous and property destruction has been considerable over the centuries, deaths are very uncommon from volcanic activity. The most popular activities on the volcano are tours of the craters, hiking and visiting waterfalls and towns on the mountainsides. Often steam and, less commonly, lava can be seen from the area.


    Somewhat Wheelchair Accessible

Photo of Mt. Etna Crater by Nikater

Catania and Acireale

Port to Acireale - 85 KM, 70 minutes
Port to Catania - 97 KM, 1 hour 20 minutes

Catania has a long and storied history dominated by the infrequent eruptions of Mount Etna which towers behind the port and has completely destroyed the city twice. Much of the city was destroyed during the last major eruption in 1669, followed by a devastating earthquake in 1693. During the first half of the 18th century the city rebuilt itself in the baroque style inspired by the vision of architect Giovanni Battista Vaccarini. The work of this period is the reason that Catania's historic center was designated by UNESCO. The colors of the city are the black-gray of the volcanic stone and the white of the marble used on its major monuments. The cathedral (duomo) displays elements of the city's history, including the 1669 eruption in a fresco. The facade is considered one of Vaccarini's masterworks. Other baroque buildings include many churches and homes of the ruling class of that earlier time. The Ursino Castle is the one older structure that offers visitors a view into the distant past.

Like Catania, Acireale was nearly completely destroyed by the eruptions and earthquake of the late 17th century and was rebuilt in a Sicilian Baroque style. The most famous attraction in the city is the Duomo on the city's main square, which was not destroyed in the earthquake, but has been renovated significantly so that it blends Gothic, Baroque and other styles. Also on the square is St. Peters Basilica, built in the Baroque style. Several beautiful palazzos in the city are popular attractions, along with beautiful parks.


    Somewhat Wheelchair Accessible

Photo of Catania Cathedral by Urban

Hagia Sophia seen from the Sea of Marmara


Port to Cefula - 167 KM, 1 hour 50 minutes

The Cathedral at Cefalu was built by the King of Sicily (Roger II, ruled 1130-1154) in the Norman style with a blend of other elements including Arab. The great mosaic of Christ Pantocrator (right) was created by an unknown artist during this period. The historic coastal town contains many other historic churches and palazzos, including the remains of one reputed to have been built by Roger II.


    Somewhat Wheelchair Accessible

Photo of Cefalu Cathedral Christ Pantocrator Mosaic by the Yorck Project

Natural and Remote Attractions

Port to Peloritani Mountains - 12 KM, 20 minutes
Port to Aeolian Islands - 78 KM, 1 hour 50 minutes (includes ferry)
Port to Milazzo - 40 KM, 45 minutes
Port to Tindari - 60 KM, 50 minutes
Port to Castiglione - 80 KM, 1 hour 15 minutes
Port to Castroreale - 53 KM, 55 minutes

For those more interested in natural sights and perhaps hiking, there are the nearby Peloritani Mountains with rocky peaks and verdant valleys and the volcanic Aeolian Islands which can be reached by ferry. Settled in the late Stone Age, the Aeolian island Lipari was an important source for obsidian, the hard black volcanic rock used for weapons and tools. Of the seven islands in the chain, two have active volcanoes. It has been named a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Milazzo, the small port where ferries depart for the islands, has a 10th century fortress built by the Arabs. Tindari, a bit farther along the coast, is an archaeological site atop a scenic hill with the more recent Church of the Black Madonna. Castiglione is a medieval town that now serves as a center for Sicily's wine production. Castroreale has 3000 residents and 80 churches and it is near the Roman ruin of Biaglo, featuring houses from the 1st century BCE.


Accessibility and terrain vary.

Photo of Milazzo Fortress courtesy of Messina Tourism

Interests Key:

Art Architecture Beach Children Wild Animals Local Cuisine Flora Gardens-Parks Geology

Diving UNESCO Views Wine Dance Music Shopping History Hiking

Walking & Wheelchair Accessibility:

No Walking Easy Walking Normal Walking Difficult Walking Accessible Limited Not Accessible